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What Is This Thing Called IBM i?

hands typing on a computer

What could we tell a new user or customer of IBM i? How could it fundamentally be defined?
We might say it’s an operating system, just like Windows, with the hardware running it being Power Systems by IBM. But IBM i is unique, not just a typical operating system, but an environment of its own: an operating environment!

When you compare it to other systems, there are things you don’t have to buy with IBM i, things that it can do that other environments do not or cannot. It includes the following:

Database and file serving, user interface, security, work management, virtualization, availability, networking and connectivity, auditing, storage management, application serving.

It is one inherent database, a consistent one; if you have multiple vendors selling you software that use the same database – you won’t have to purchase another one! It doesn’t have database administrators to carve up the environment, so to speak, and this is exactly what makes it unique.

The user interface used to be a simple, typical green screen, but now comes in multiple formats and visual forms. In fact, most modern applications written on IBM i nowadays use a web browser interface that can be used on mobile devices, PCs, and more.

One of IBM i’s strengths is its built-in security, but it is often also a struggle for individuals or companies using it use it to its full potential. Multiple workloads on one same server is exactly what makes the work management and virtualization aspect of IBM i so significant.

As a whole, IBM i is an integrated operating environment with a reputation for exceptional security and business resilience. It runs a lot of mission-critical business applications.

Originally known as AS/400, IBM i has tremendously evolved to where it is today. Let me take you through the definitions, uses and best practices to take the mystery out of what IBM i can do for you.

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